How to Exercise with Depression as an Adult Male

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The aims of this article are threefold. First, it aims to offer specific tips on how to motivate yourself to exercise when it feels impossible. Secondly, it will present some tips toward exercise geared directly to fighting depression. Thirdly, it will give a detailed 12-week sample training program for adult males on how to exercise for depression.

You have probably heard that aerobic exercise can lessen the symptoms of depression. A series of Mayo Clinic studies have confirmed several basic beliefs about the link between exercise and depression: Exercise, the studies claim, releases endorphins which are natural antidepressants. The studies also point to several of the more generic benefits of exercise that can also relate to depression. For example, the mental focus necessary to keep exercise effective helps to reverse patterns of thinking that can emphasize negativity. As exercise helps to improve health and physical appearance, confidence can begin to replace the more negative self-image associated with depression.

The studies that the Mayo Clinic published does not just explain the ways exercise can help fight depression. Recognizing that one of the most prominent and debilitating symptoms of depression is a lack of motivation, it provides practical advice to help toward cultivating a desire to exercise. Nevertheless, all of the research that the Mayo Clinic presents is fairly generic, so the practical help it provides may be difficult to put into practice without explicit guidance toward how to exercise for depression.

Getting Started

Getting started is the most difficult part of any kind of routine when dealing with depression, so it is essential to seek help when beginning the process. Consult with your doctor so that he/she can help you set your goals. Your doctor is already familiar with your current state of health and he/she can take your individual symptoms of depression into account before you start your plan. Next, seek out a personal trainer. Personal trainers tailor exercise regimens for those with specific body types as well as those with various medical conditions. Look for a personal trainer on the iTrainer website. Personal trainers are an invaluable asset toward the goals you have set with your physician.

A personal trainer will help you incorporate the specific needs and goals that you discussed with your doctor into a training program tailored just for you. This, in turn, can help empower you, and you can begin taking the small steps necessary to begin your exercise regime. Training programs that are tailored to your needs and health restrictions can help you gradually increase the amounts and intensity of workouts without causing harm. Personal trainers can help you through every stage of your exercise program. Because their coaching is based on your personal goals and needs, they should steer you toward the best cardio and strength-training exercises to help deal with your symptoms of depression. Finding and choosing a personal trainer who has this type of expertise is not difficult, as trainers in the iTrainer directory have experience in this area.

Some of the most recent research indicates that virtual reality exercise can have a tremendous effect on reducing symptoms of both depression and anxiety. As such, once a training plan has been established and you know the first steps you need to take, discuss your plan with your personal trainer. Virtual reality exercise can be helpful if you have difficulty leaving your home. Virtual reality exercise can also be a great way to alleviate the pressures related to beginning a new routine since it is just you and your app, with nobody to perform for. You’re free to enjoy the exercises alone, without feeling any of the social inhibitions that come with taking a class. Many fitness apps are currently available with different emphases. You can browse through the choices and select one that works with your plan.

How to Exercise in a Way That Maximizes the Work of Endorphins

According to a paper in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the longer and more frequently an individual exercises, the more endorphins are activated. These endorphins promote a consistently healthy mood. This is problematic for people suffering from depression since it is so difficult to begin in the first place. Although scientific studies conclusively show a link between physical exercise and the lessening of depressive symptoms, said studies are rarely specific. They do not list the types of exercises that are appropriate for somebody in the midst of those symptoms.

12-Week Training Program- Adult – Male

Once again, it must be stated that a training program designed to help with symptoms of depression is a very individual matter. The “12-week training program- adult – male” section offered here is a broad guideline not to be practiced strictly but to be adapted in the process of creating your own training program for your own purposes. This should be accomplished with your personal trainer, based on the needs assessed from a consultation with your doctor. You can use this plan in consulting with your personal trainer. Adapt it and make your own individualized program to best meet your needs and to best fit your goals.

Week 1 Find and purchase a fitness app that sounds most enjoyable to you. Many fitness apps can be found online. Don’t get bogged down by the specificity of a program in the app you choose. Don’t feel pressured or limited by the goals they set. Part of choosing the right app for you involves making sure that you can use it to go at your own pace and accomplish your goals, not somebody else’s goals.

Monday: Begin using your new app to start the exercise of your choice. Plan to do so for just five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes. Once the alarm goes off, if you feel like doing more, by all means continue. Only force yourself to do those first five minutes, however.

Tuesday-Saturday: Increase your minimum by one minute each day so that by Saturday you are up to a 10-minute minimum. If you exceed that minimum, that’s great. But if you don’t exceed it or just barely exceed it, know that the gradual changes you are making to your daily routine will help you to soon exceed what you are currently able to do.

Week 2

Continue with the fitness app of your choosing. Continue with the gradual increase of the minimum time spent with it.

Sunday: 12 minutes

Monday: 14 minutes

Tuesday: 16 minutes

Thursday: 18 minutes

Friday: 20 minutes

Saturday: 22 minutes

Week 3

The goal of this plan is to reach a daily minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, as this is the standard in both of the studies mentioned above. During the third week of this program, you will gradually add minutes to your routine with the fitness app until reaching that 30-minute minimum, which will occur during this week.

Sunday: 25 minutes

Monday: 28 minutes

Tuesday-Saturday: 30 minutes

Week 4

Continue working out with your app of choice for the same 30-minute minimum throughout the course of this week; this will conclude the first of the program’s three stages. In the second stage, weeks 5-8, you will devote each week to a different type of exercise. The final stage, weeks 9-12, will be an integration of each of those types. After this 12-week training program is complete, the goal is to make this integration a consistent routine that can become a normal part of your life.

Week 5

Have an indoor mounted bicycle placed in your home, ready to use before the time you begin your fifth week of the program. Ride for 30 minutes three to four times this week. Start slowly, and keep a device in sight that helps you keep track of time so that you increase your speed gradually, going about as fast as you can between the 15-20-minute marks and then reducing speed for the last 10 minutes. The five minutes of the highest speed and intensity will increase your heart rate and induce sweat. These are signs of a good cardiovascular workout, and a good cardiovascular workout is what it takes to improve endorphin functioning. A cardiovascular workout releases endorphins into your body, warding off depression and anxiety. If a full-sized stationary bike is unavailable or too cost-prohibitive, a mini cardio cycle (featuring just the pedals and a firm stand) can be purchased for as little as $20.

Week 6

Thus far, the entire program has kept you indoors and at your own home. This has been for the purpose of moving gradually to respect the limitations commonly caused by depression. After these five weeks, though, you should be ready to move to some outdoor exercise. And this is a crucial transition in your routine since sunlight has a very positive impact on mood.

Sunday-Saturday: As soon as possible after the sun rises, jog outdoors for 30 minutes three to four times this week.

Week 7

Along with a stationary bike for week 5, have a regular bicycle ready to use by the time you begin your seventh week of this exercise program. Follow a similar pattern of speed as you did with the mounted bike during the fifth week. However, like week six, you will be outside, so you will be able to experience the benefits of sunlight as well, creating a greater impact on mood and overall well-being. Thus, as was the case with your jogging in week six, it is highly recommended that you do your cycling during the earliest part of the morning after the sun has risen.

Sunday-Saturday: Bicycle outdoors for at least 30 minutes three to four times this week.

Week 8

In conversations with your trainer, you should have already been considering local gyms and gym membership. Now in your eighth week, it is time to visit the gym you have chosen. No daily plan will be outlined for your week at the gym because there are too many options there for you to try. Make sure you’re continuously exercising for 30 minutes each day, but do so in as many different ways, using as many different machines as you want. Learn the gym. Learn what you like. Learn what works for you. And like everything else so far in this program, the most important goal is to learn how to enjoy it.

Weeks 9-12

Now that you have successfully integrated all the activities outlined in the second stage of the program, you have reached a point where you are ready for more independence. You know what you need to do. It’s now up to you to put those two things together in a balanced way that helps you stay motivated to exercise and in ways you’ve learned to enjoy. Throughout weeks 9-12, you’re learning to put everything together, so it’s advisable that you stay within the constraints you held to during the second stage (i.e. if you kept to the 30-minute minimum in all exercises during weeks 5-8, keep to that minimum again through weeks 9-12). Once you have actively integrated all these exercises into weekly plans after these 12 weeks are completed, you can increase the amount of time you exercise or try a new type of exercise. As you continue to grow in these disciplines and in your enjoyment of them, you should continue to experience results that help fight symptoms of depression.


Knowing that exercise can be extremely beneficial to alleviate symptoms of depression, this article intends to help you start an exercise plan one step at a time. You can then use these steps to train yourself to exercise when it feels the hardest. Even with small steps, you will experience the mood enhancement so often associated with exercise. The first step, however, is to discuss the plan with your doctor and then make a detailed plan with a personal trainer. Once you begin working with a personal trainer, you can use the ideas presented in the plan listed here and adapt that plan to your own needs and exercise interests. Once you begin implementing that plan, you will be able to experience the benefits of enhanced endorphin activity in your body, helping to naturally improve your mood. This, in turn, should lead you to an overall healthier state of being.

This article provided specific tips on how to motivate yourself to exercise when it feels impossible; presented some tips toward exercise geared directly to fighting depression; and gave a detailed 12-week sample training program for adult males on how to exercise for depression. We hope you found it helpful.


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